Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude: A personal story

"I cannot tell you how happy I am that I have taken up drawing again.
I had been thinking about it for a long time, but always considered it
 impossible and beyond my abilities."
—Vincent van Gogh

In addition to being a milestone—my 100th post!—this is an especially personal post for me. I recently created this drawing for a Thanksgiving card that is sent out by The Parkinson's Institute, a renowned clinic and research center in my area. I feel a strong sense of gratitude for the wonderful people at the PI, because I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in the spring of 2009.

There are a lot of reasons that I've chosen not to share this on my blog until now. First, I feel that my condition isn't really relevant to my artwork. I'm very fortunate that my symptoms have been mild so far, and have affected only my left side. Since I'm right-handed, my drawing has been unaffected for now. (By the way, it's purely random as to which side is more affected, so I know that I'm one lucky woman.) But more importantly, I simply want people to respond to my drawings for the drawings, not because they were drawn by someone with PD. (And I promise you, after this post I will be back to the serious business of drawing nuts and marshmallow Peeps.)

But lately, I feel the need to celebrate the fact that I'm still drawing away, Parkinson's and all, and I want to express my thankfulness for the Parkinson's community:

I'm thankful for the amazing doctors and researchers at the Institute, who may someday soon be instrumental in finding a cure for Parkinson's.

I'm thankful for two other blogging artists with Parkinson's (now that's an elite group). The first is Cindy DeLuz, a wonderful woman that I met at the Institute. She just exudes happiness when you talk to her, and you can see it in her artwork. The other is Amanda Bates, a friend that I met online. (Yes, I consider a number of my blogging buddies to be friends, even though we've never met...isn't technology wonderful?) Somehow, I happened upon Amanda's beautiful painting blog and her informative Parkinson's blog separately, and it was only later that I realized they were written by the same woman!

I'm thankful for my inspirational fellow Institute patients, including one that still entertains his friends with his lively banjo-playing, and another that plays golf three times a week!

I'm thankful for Michael J. Fox and the work he's done through his Foundation. In the first months after I was diagnosed, I had no idea as to how fast my symptoms would progress—it's different for everyone— which was pretty frightening. But, thanks to MJF, I saw a person close to my own age, that I could relate to. I kept telling myself that if he can still lead a full, generous, vibrant life, then I could too.

In his book, Always Looking Up, Michael J. Fox states, "For everything this disease has taken, something with greater value has been given—sometimes just a marker that points me in a new direction that I might not otherwise have traveled." That couldn't be truer than it is for me. Would I have taken the time to rediscover my passion for drawing, and would I have started my blog, had I not been faced with the fact that I didn't know if, or when, my manual dexterity would deteriorate?  So, while I stated above that Parkinson's disease isn't really relevant to the artwork itself, it may very well have been the marker that pointed me  "in a direction I might not otherwise have traveled." And for that, I am truly grateful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Aw, Nuts!

Prismacolor colored pencil on Strathmore charcoal paper, "Golden Brown"

I love drawing nuts. They're such interesting shapes and textures, inside and out. I also love samplers and swatch charts, color charts, botanical charts, it doesn't matter what the subject is, really—I like their visual organization. The illustrations that the John Burgoyne does for the back covers of Cooks Illustrated magazine make me swoon. So, this is my nut "sampler", but it's a work-in-progress. There will eventually be at least 2 more rows, a walnut and a Brazil nut. I may add some hand-lettered labels, but that remains to be seen.  I'm also using it to illustrate this week's Illustration Friday topic, "zoom", as I really had to get out my magnifying glass to zoom in on these. (Okay, that may be a stretch, but I've missed participating in IF lately, and just had to enter something this week!)

Drawing on toned, textured paper seemed to help capture the colors and feel of the almond and hazelnut. The only drawback is that it's not as easy to digitally clean up stray background smudges and pencil dust, so that hasn't been done yet on this piece.

I've got another couple of pieces (one with a very personal story attached to it) that are almost ready to share; I hope you'll check back on Thursday for a special Thanksgiving post!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Notecards II

Yikes... it's been a month since I've posted! I've been busy with a couple of projects that I'll share with you shortly, but in the meantime, I thought I'd show you a set of cards that I put together for a friend's birthday. (Apologies for the uneven lighting in this shot; I was rushing around, as usual. But not a bad shot for an iPhone...) I made a different set a while back (you can see that post, with details about the supplies that I used, here). However, instead of spray mount, I used a wonderful little Tombow adhesive this easy! And for this set, I used Paper Source's "Cement" for the A7 notecards and envelopes and "Lake" for the box.

Here's the label that is on the box bottom...I completely forgot to photograph the finished box from the top, but it also had a vellum band like the first set. This time I used one of the flowers from the "Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow" card as the sticker.

I keep thinking that I might someday get organized enough to put cards and prints in an Etsy shop, but I'm not sure that it'd be worth the time and effort. I'd love to hear from those of you that are Etsy sellers...has your experience been positive?